Tigers of Wang Twang: Aerosmith: Pandora’s Box (Columbia)

“THERE ARE JUST a very few bands that wang my twang like Aerosmith,” conceded the deer-stalkin’ wild man of rock, Ted Nugent, in one of his more charitable moments.

As one of America’s greatest and most influential rock’n’roll bands, Aerosmith have wanged twangs for two decades now, and Pandora’s Box is the Bostonians’ definitive anthology.

Taking its title from a song on the band’s second album Get Your Wings, Pandora’s Box is more than just a Best Of compilation. Classic material from Aerosmith’s 15 years on the Columbia label (their detoxed comeback was via Geffen) is mixed with many rare or previously unreleased tracks: it’s an indispensable collection spanning three CDs or cassettes, beginning with ‘When I Needed You’ (a tune that vocalist Steven Tyler cut with the group Chain Reaction in 1966) and ending with that rollicking old cowboy song ‘Back In The Saddle’ (from the 1976 album Rocks).

Accompanying the music is a thick, glossy booklet detailing the band’s history, and offering a little insight into each track: ‘Walk This Way’, for instance, was inspired by Mel Brooks’ Young Frankenstein.

Several of the unreleased cuts are formative versions of songs which later made it onto albums. The early and finished takes are positioned back to back, which makes for fascinating listening. As guitarist Joe Perry says of the 50-second ‘Shit House Shuffle’: “At first I thought: ‘Who’s gonna be interested in this?’, but then I figured someone will get something out of it.”

Within Pandora’s Box is just about everything you’ll ever need to know
about Aerosmith. Great music, beautifully packaged: already, it’s the rock
box of the year. (9)

© Paul ElliottVox, February 1992

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